Big Player in Things Small; Small Player in Things Big: Why America Refuses to Get It Right

This article was first published on August 21, 2013, during the tenure of President Obama, with Kerry serving in the 'State' role. Egypt experienced upheaval, subtly endorsed by the departing Hillary Clinton. During this period, Gaza continued to face the enduring challenges as Israel grappled with its perceptions of the situation – a scenario that echoed the sentiment: Rest in Pain.

I was musing over the strangeness of it all. Really! Never mind Lewis Caroll, but it does get "curiouser and curiouser".

Yes, indeed, wonder of wonders. One would think the predicament is in Egypt, but no, it's in DC, too. Why does the US with its grand Constitution, the Bill of Rights and 237 years of history choose to go around in circles like a headless turkey?

Has America actually not graduated from its lower classes of learning and experience? Where is the leader, the omnipotent with its unchallenged fleets of armor, the omniscient with its NSA excessiveness, and the King Midas with its bottomless mines of creative and created wealth?

Why can it not settle on the long run and why does it always seek to micro-manage the short run? Come hail or high water; let the minions, the underlings deal with the short run hiccups and transitions.

Unfortunately, it is America's existential reality that it cannot project its bigness because it is lived by people entrenched in smallness. Which great judge straddles the fence and makes his judiciousness obsolete? Clarity is the stuff of any fair judgment. People lose power illegally and America is tongue tied. People protest this outrage and are killed and are blamed for being terrorists and America walks around with its hat in its hands. The America that allows every adult to have a gun to protect it from an imperial presidency cannot see what is happening in Egypt. How detached is America! How hollow is its understanding of its own Constitution! If the people of Egypt are different than the American people and cannot deserve the same right, then how self-righteous and racist is this America that I have emigrated to? More importantly, it is managed by people entrenched in smallness. That small people and small managers roost most countries is no surprise, but unlike America they are not great countries, pretend to be, or have some evidence to that effect. So, it suits them fine to get their hands dirty on all and sundry matters whenever and wherever should their reach extend far enough.

Thus, despite its glorious past and promise of a glorious future, America is an exasperated and annoyed nation at many levels. It is sweating the small stuff that is getting to it. However, it is unaware what perpetuates the listlessness. Like an addict, America keeps shunting itself back into the small stuff. America for the life of it cannot find the ladder that extends to the Heavens and when it does its small people hold her back from climbing up on it.

The other problem of America is money, oodles and oodles of it. It has worked through all the contingencies her imagination could possibly cook up. The money has come in handy employing people to work out through all the permutations through which the world might roll through and there is a true, but not always tested, American response to each such event. The work of small people is ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice. Well, in the case of Egypt, it came into gear back in 2011. But now, the coil is stuck and it is about to snap back. While we see that one war hero, McCain, has attempted to climb the heights, the other war hero, Kerry, has sunk quite low. How can he not have done so? Afterall now he leads the small people sweating the small stuff. Even the would be audacious POTUS, I hope unbeknown to him, has been co-opted. He, too, has been walking lock step with the small people in his employ as displayed by the myriad of failed promises. The paradox and tragedy of over-preparedness is way manifest in how the policies have differed between Syria and Egypt and how we are making sure that Libya is split between Tripoli and Benghazi.

The factory-like response: knocking down one project after another, having a handy SOP is efficient. But what are its boundaries? When one conjures up "A Man for All Seasons", one thinks about versatility and diversification, and sticking to ethics no matter what. Perhaps, today, people like Sir Thomas More are to be found only on pages of a moralistic play. Today, America seeks to package all seasons into one season and bring to bear essentially one response that caters to her own kind and one that will enhance her wealth and power - the contemporary means and measure of greatness. America is on a self-defeating mission in much of its international relations, not to speak of many domestically. It appears there is nothing to make it cease and desist as it relentlessly reduces the 50 stars into one - her vain-gloriousness.
When the Great stoop so low, what are we to make of it? Greatness is not as great as it has been made out to be. It is also not a permanent state. It is a gift the gifted are prone to lose. So, seek not the title of greatness, but great values that identify the high ground. Then continue doing the good work even when difficulties have diminished - Fa idha fargata fansob [94:7].

Without a shadow of doubt, true greatness lies with the Creator. No wonder Allahu Akbar, that God is Greater, is so appropriate for all times and circumstances. It is not a cliched partisan slogan or simply a term of glorification, it is also a functional instrument that allows perspective about our smallness and the humility it naturally presages. The roots of many things social, political, military and economic may be found in Allahu Akbar. This is yet another example why Faith is relevant. For the attentive, it does assist to order even the decisions in the secular arena. So, faith on the lips must reach the heart. Otherwise it is cheap doublespeak. Faith is functional if we allow it to be. It is designed for creature comfort, not for the welfare of the Creator! It appears that for all practical purposes America's men at helm are faithless. Unfortunately, it is not just their loss, it is ours, too!


Dr. Shafi A. Khaled is a freelance writer. He teaches and does research in Business & Economics.

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Older Comments:
Thanks a lot to include m e in you mailing list.

I am sorry for not being able to read the article at once. However, as usual, I am an admirer of your patience, scholarship, and persistence in thinking and doing good. I am a kind of non-reading person, lazy at the extreme. please forgive me. I will try to become better, Insha'Allah.

Give my Salam and best wishes to your family.

Jazakum'Allah Khyiran

Mohammad Jalaluddin
Pine Bluff, AR